U.S. Water News Online
TRENTON, N.J. -- Environmental and other watchdog groups in
four states have filed a federal lawsuit to try to stop the U.S. Army
from trucking the byproduct of a deadly chemical weapon from Indiana
to New Jersey, where it would be treated and dumped into the Delaware
The complaint by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and other groups
claims the Army's plan to transport the byproduct of neutralized VX
nerve agent across state lines violates a federal law banning
interstate movement of chemical weapons.
The suit, filed in federal district court in Washington and made
public by the plaintiffs, also challenges the Army's assessment of
the impact the proposed project would have on the river. The
complaint seeks to force the Army to complete an environmental impact
statement before the project is allowed to move forward.
"We're challenging this toxic threat, and we're also challenging
future toxic threats," said Delaware Riverkeeper Maya K. van Rossum.
She said it's vital to stop the Army now because there are numerous
chemical weapons stockpiles in need of disposal.
VX is so deadly that a single drop can kill a person in minutes by
paralyzing their nervous system, causing suffocation. The Army is
required by a 1997 international treaty to destroy the Cold War-era
remnant by 2012 and is in the process of neutralizing its stockpile
at Indiana's Newport Chemical Depot.
The Army has tried for years to win approval to ship the byproduct
to a DuPont facility in Deepwater, where it would be treated and then
discharged into the Delaware.
The proposed dumping site, near the Delaware Memorial Bridge, is
30 miles upriver of the Delaware Bay's oyster beds.
Environmentalists and officials in Delaware and New Jersey oppose
the plan and have said they will fight it through legislation and in
court, if necessary. Meanwhile, a federal review of the plan is
Co-plaintiffs in the suit are the American Littoral Society; the
Chemical Weapons Working Group, based in Kentucky; Pennsylvania Clean
Water Action; the Delaware and New Jersey Audubon societies; and the
New Jersey Environmental Federation.
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